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Swearing by Phrenology

John Vincent, 3 February 2000

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism 
by Conrad Russell.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £12.95, September 1999, 0 7156 2947 6
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... of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and that of Liberal Democratic politics today. Indeed, Conrad Russell goes further than that; he not only makes a claim for continuity over a very long period, but maintains that this sprang from a common root in liberal political philosophy, especially that of Locke, Bentham and Mill. One may perhaps put aside ...

Conrad Russell’s Civil War

Blair Worden, 29 August 1991

The Causes of the English Civil War 
by Conrad Russell.
Oxford, 236 pp., £35, November 1990, 0 19 822142 8
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The Fall of the British Monarchies 1637-1642 
by Conrad Russell.
Oxford, 580 pp., £40, April 1991, 9780198227540
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... For fifteen years Conrad Russell has dominated that most embattled and most heavily populated area of historical study, the origins of the civil wars of mid-17th-century England. In doing so, he has banished controversy to the margins. This is a highly unusual accomplishment. Advances in contentious historiographical territory are generally achieved through baronial feuds, not through submission to a monarchy ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... in New York told me that the historian Peter Lake told him that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak ...

Royal Panic Attack

Colin Kidd: James VI and I, 16 June 2011

King James VI and I and His English Parliaments 
by Conrad Russell, edited by Richard Cust and Andrew Thrush.
Oxford, 195 pp., £55, February 2011, 978 0 19 820506 7
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... In the midst of this historical revolution the career of the parliamentary historian Conrad Russell, whose first book was published in 1971 and who died in 2004, seemed like a fantastical conceit on the unfashionable notion of ‘history from above’. Certainly, the bald facts of the case suggest a throwback to an era when leisured ...

Mingling Freely at the Mermaid

Blair Worden: 17th-century poets and politics, 6 November 2003

The Crisis of 1614 and the Addled Parliament: Literary and Historical Perspectives 
edited by Stephen Clucas and Rosalind Davies.
Ashgate, 213 pp., £45, November 2003, 0 7546 0681 3
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The Politics of Court Scandal in Early Modern England: News Culture and the Overbury Affair 1603-60 
by Alastair Bellany.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £45, January 2002, 0 521 78289 9
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... in the spring and by the imprisonment of the Crown’s principal critics within it. The lecture by Conrad Russell, the dominant historian of the politics of the period, found no place for such sentiments. To him the substance of early modern Parliamentary activity lies in the grind and details of the legislative process, not in the declamatory gestures of ...

Birth of a Náison

John Kerrigan, 5 June 1997

The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, 1621-41 
edited by J.F. Merritt.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £35, March 1996, 0 521 56041 1
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The British Problem, c. 1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and John Morrill.
Macmillan, 334 pp., £13.50, June 1996, 0 333 59246 8
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The Stuart Court and Europe: Essays in Politics and Political Culture 
edited by Malcolm Smuts.
Cambridge, 289 pp., £35, September 1996, 9780521554398
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Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the 19th Century 
by Joep Leerssen.
Cork, 454 pp., £17.95, November 1996, 1 85918 112 0
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... Having dismantled Whig and Marxist explanations of political change in England, revisionists like Conrad Russell make raids into Scottish and Irish history looking for the causes of Civil War. Used in that way, such events as the Presbyterian Covenant of 1637 and the Ulster Rebellion of 1641 clarify English crises at the expense of their local ...

Rescuing the bishops

Blair Worden, 21 April 1983

The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559-1625 
by Patrick Collinson.
Oxford, 297 pp., £17.50, January 1983, 0 19 822685 3
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Reactions to the English Civil War 1642-1649 
by John Morrill.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £14, November 1982, 0 333 27565 9
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The World of the Muggletonians 
by Christopher Hill, Barry Reay and William Lamont.
Temple Smith, 195 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 85117 226 1
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The Life of John Milton 
by A.N. Wilson.
Oxford, 278 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 211776 9
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Complete Prose Works of John Milton. Vol. 8: 1666-1682 
edited by Maurice Kelley.
Yale, 625 pp., £55, January 1983, 0 300 02561 0
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The Poet’s Time: Politics and Religion in the Works of Andrew Marvell 
by Warren Chernaik.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 9780521247733
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... know that civil war lay round the corner. Collinson has done for early 17th-century religion what Conrad Russell has done for early 17th-century politics. He leaves the Church in the late 1620s where Russell has left Parliament – a very long way from revolution. The Jacobean Church was a broad church. Collinson shows ...

Ideas of War

Johann Sommerville, 27 October 1988

The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Cambridge, 234 pp., £15, May 1988, 0 521 32607 9
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War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime: 1618-1789 
by M.S. Anderson.
Fontana, 239 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 00 686053 2
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Waging war: A Philosophical Introduction 
by Ian Clark.
Oxford, 154 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 19 827325 8
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... he say much about how war affected attitudes, sometimes with important political consequences. Conrad Russell has persuasively argued that the pressures of war were one of the major precipitants of political crisis in early 17th-century England, but this book devotes little space to that topic. At several points Anderson notes that English hostility ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... politicians I have seen so far have tended to be Liberal Democrats: Charles Kennedy, Conrad Russell, Menzies Campbell. But then, it will be said, politicians such as these can well afford to be themselves. From the two interested parties, Kenneth Clarke is, of course, known to be attractively ‘robust’, not to say quarrelsome, but he is ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... the middle class altogether’. But the middle class, under another name, is in again these days. Conrad Russell, Hexter’s successor at Yale and no friend of loose generalisation, has recently envisaged ‘a new social change explanation’ of the English Civil War, based on the power of the rising yeomanry, tradesmen and artificers. I think he is ...

Scarisbrick’s Bomb

Peter Gwyn, 20 December 1984

Reformation and Revolution 1558-1660 
by Robert Ashton.
Granada, 503 pp., £18, February 1984, 0 246 10666 2
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The Reformation and the English People 
by J.J. Scarisbrick.
Blackwell, 203 pp., £14.50, March 1984, 0 631 13424 7
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... by the recent wave of ‘revisionism’. The revisionist historians of the Stuart period, led by Conrad Russell with Kevin Sharpe in support, have sought to persuade us that, contrary to what most English historians have led us to believe, the first two Stuart kings were on the whole a good thing, the Parliamentarians a bad thing. Perhaps even more ...

New-Model History

Valerie Pearl, 7 February 1980

The City and the Court 1603-1643 
by Robert Ashton.
Cambridge, 247 pp., £10.50, September 1980, 0 521 22419 5
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... in historians’ minds nowadays, are not touched upon. Take first the influences of war and peace. Conrad Russell has pointed out how the financial and administrative strains of Charles’s war policy exacerbated relations between King and Parliament during the first five years of his reign, thus demonstrating the disruptive effect of war on Early Modern ...

Playboy’s Paperwork

Patrick Collinson: Historiography and Elizabethan politics, 11 November 1999

The World of the Favourite 
edited by J.H. Elliott and L.W.B. Brockliss.
Yale, 320 pp., £35, June 1999, 0 300 07644 4
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The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-97 
by Paul Hammer.
Cambridge, 468 pp., £45, June 1999, 0 521 43485 8
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... politically destabilising competition for place and profit to operate at one remove. According to Conrad Russell, writing some time ago, the mistake of the Stuarts may have been not the elevation of Buckingham but the failure to find a substitute after his death, for as was said at the time, ‘there is now none to impute our faults unto,’ which ...

Skipwith and Anktill

David Wootton: Tudor Microhistory, 10 August 2000

Travesties and Transgressions in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 351 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 19 820781 6
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A House in Gross Disorder: Sex, Law, and the Second Earl of Castlehaven 
by Cynthia Herrup.
Oxford, 216 pp., £18.99, December 1999, 0 19 512518 5
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... be condemned and the Lords abolished. Already in 1631 (the recent ‘revisionist’ histories of Conrad Russell and others notwithstanding) the old order was sufficiently insecure to need a scapegoat, and Castlehaven was convenient for this purpose, being strikingly unsupported by powerful friends and allies. Herrup has skilfully avoided a number of ...

Without Map or Compass

Sionaidh Douglas-Scott: Brexit and the Constitution, 24 May 2018

... constitution, rather than rely on the Diceyan totem of parliamentary sovereignty. The historian Conrad Russell held that ‘a residual Scottish sovereignty’ derived from the Treaty of Union. The British constitution should therefore be seen as distinct from the English constitution, and Scottish constitutional principles (as well as Northern Irish ...

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